National Geographic: Who Lies in Ancient Amphipolis Tomb?



amphipolis
“Who’s Buried in Largest Tomb in Northern Greece? New Finds Raise Intrigue,” is the title of a National Geographic article on the excavations taking place in Ancient Amphipolis.

A relative of Alexander the Great may lie in the 2,300-year-old burial site,” the article suggests.

Fans of ancient history are laying bets on who was buried in the dark heart of a massive marble-walled tomb that is slowly coming to light in northern Greece, the article says.

“Dating to the tumultuous years surrounding the death of Alexander the Great, between about 325 and 300 B.C., the tomb is the largest ever found in northern Greece—a resting place monumental enough for royalty,” it adds.

The burial ground borders the ancient Aegean port of Amphipolis (near modern-day Amfípoli), which once served as the base for the fleet that Alexander the Great took on his invasion of Asia.

Now the question that still remains unanswered is to whom this tomb belongs to. It is very possible that Alexander’s followers constructed an opulent funerary mound at Amphipolis for at least one of their own.

The article refers to many historical texts which agree that Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 B.C., possibly of an infectious disease such as malaria or typhoid fever. Mourners then reportedly preserved the king’s body in honey and placed it on a funerary cart destined for his home in Macedonia, now northern Greece.

But along the way, one of Alexander’s favorite generals, Ptolemy, “kidnapped the corpse and buried it somewhere in Egypt. So I will bet you ten dollars that Alexander the Great is not in the tomb of Amphipolis,” the writer says.

Instead, the smart money among archaeologists is on a member of the king’s immediate family—perhaps his mother, Olympias; his wife, Roxana; or his young son, also named Alexander.

After the king’s death, his generals divided up his empire. One of them, Cassander, executed all three of the king’s next of kin in order to secure his own reign over Macedonia. But it is very possible that Alexander’s well-heeled followers constructed an opulent funerary mound at Amphipolis for at least one of their own.

“It is an enormous tomb, and one assumes that it was built for some prestigious and wealthy person,” says archaeologist Hector Williams at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. If the tomb proves to be unlooted, and the clues to the original owner’s identity remain intact, some history buffs may soon be able to collect on their bets, the National Geographic article says.


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